JACOB ZUMA: A Christian response

JACOB ZUMA: A Christian response

JOHANNESBURG – The Constitutional Court has sentenced former President Jacob Zuma to 15 months in jail.

It said he was in contempt of court when he failed to appear and participate at the state capture inquiry.

Justice Sisi Khampepe handed down the judgment on Tuesday morning, saying court considered an unsuspended jail term of two years but that this matter was extraordinary.

“The Constitutional Court holds that there can be no doubt that Mr Zuma is in contempt of court. A judgment order was handed down in favour of the applicant [the Zondo commission]. Mr Zuma was served with the order, and it is impossible to conclude anything other than that he was unequivocally aware of what it exactly required of him. Never before has the authority of the Constitutional Court been threatened, never before has the judiciary been threatened.”

The Constitutional Court is the highest court in South Africa, which means Zuma cannot appeal this ruling through the national judicial system.

Zuma has been ordered to submit himself to Nkandla Police Station or the Johannesburg Central Police Station in five days.

EYEWINESS NEWS:  https://ewn.co.za/2021/06/29/zuma-sentenced-to-15-months-in-jail-for-being-in-contempt-of-court

A CHRISTIAN RESPONSE

By Cheryllyn Dudley, Member of Parliament in South Africa (June 1999 to May 2019), author of “Through my eyes”, and currently serving as Political Analyst at dia-LOGOS

Former president Jacob Zuma, was handed a 15-month prison sentence by the Constitutional Court for contempt. Many may have a heavy heart today as a man regarded as a struggle stalwart, who gave his youth for the cause and his life in service to the people, is now facing the repercussions of his actions.  This is a challenging time for South Africa and the governing party but it has also been a long time coming and can not have taken anyone by surprise.  It is nothing less than a tragedy when men and women who started out well with good intentions succumb to the trap of personal power and wealth.

Former President Zuma will be eligible for parole in less than four months.  I pray that God will soften his heart – a heart that has had to put up many defences over the years as he has navigated the treacherous world of politics. My hope is that Jacob Zuma will embrace this season of the struggle and will call for calm, unity, and a new start for all who had lost their way to some degree on this path to freedom and a #sharedfuture.

In the meantime, Judge Zondo and the Commission are working tirelessly to wind up the hearings in order to produce their findings and recommendations. 

This work being done is a monumental and exacting task and I find myself often praying for Judge Zondo,  aware of the toll it is likely to be taking on him.  He has conducted himself in such a way as to have raised a standard of excellence while modeling a respect for human dignity in the most trying circumstances.

Our current President and many others are walking a courageous path, not unaware of the price to be paid.  These brave efforts to draw a line and attempt to break the chains that have sought to ensnare even the best of men and women are commendable. We owe so much to so many and I pray for God’s mercy and grace for us all. It is a time in which every one of us would benefit from self-reflection and to contemplate the words ‘there but for the grace of God go I’. May God bless South Africa!”

Cheryllyn Dudley

A BIBLICAL RESPONSE

By Mike Burnard, Analytical Strategist at dia-LOGOS (from the book INSALTED)

1 Peter 2:17  Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honour the emperor.

Scripture is uncompromising when it comes to how we, as Christians, should respond to our leaders.  For most South Africans the Biblical call to respect “the Emporer” – in this case, Mr.Zuma – will be difficult to swallow, and justifiably so.  But then again, very little of Jesus’s instructions were easy to listen to.  “Love your enemy”, “pray for your persecutors”, “bless the one that curses you” – in the context of Roman oppression and religious and cultural discrimination, these words must have deeply offended those who heard it and it must have been near impossible to apply it. 

The words “show respect to everyone” and “honour the emperor” in    1 Peter 2:17, are both the same word and translated from the Greek word tim-ah’-o which literally means to “fix a valuation upon; by implication to revere: – honour, and value.”  A more literal translation of this text can therefore read as follows: “Place a proper value on every soul you encounter, even the emperor”.

I find this profound.  Respect, therefore, refers to the value of a soul and not the evaluation of a person.  We, therefore, show respect to Mr.Zuma, not because he deserves it but because he is valued by God.  The ex-president were as much an object of the cross as we were.  Because God fixed a value on souls, to the extent that He sent His Son to redeem us, we understand that respect should be given to all people, without any strings attached.

No, this does not mean we respect, condone, or even pardon the actions that led to the prison sentence.  We rejoice that justice is being served and that the law is being upheld.  We are grateful that our prayers were answered and that darkness has come to light.  But we do value the soul of someone in need of grace.  By showing, or not showing respect, we will either be a building block or a stumbling block for God to achieve His purposes when people recognise the redeeming Christ in us. 

But, Mr. Zuma, really.  Yes, really!

This is quite serious.

The Emperor Peter is referring to was most probably Nero.  Nero’s extreme punishment of the Christians was perhaps one of the most evil displays of cruelty in the history of the church[1]. He held parties in his gardens while the Christian’s punishment served as entertainment. Covered with the skins of beasts, they were torn by dogs and perished, or were nailed to crosses, or were doomed to the flames and burnt, to serve as a nightly illumination. This public spectacle was on display in the Forum courtyard for all Romans to witness, while he paraded around in a chariot dressed in costume. 

“Honour him?  You must be joking!”   was probably the first response of every reader.  But Peter provides the reason why in the next verses (19)   Because it is commendable if someone bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because they are conscious of God.  (21)  To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. 

We respect because redemption is our calling, we honour because Christ is our example.  It is as simple and as difficult as that.  Remember, your greatest enemy was one of the reasons Jesus was crucified.  He has value. 

So, show proper respect to everyone.  Yes, that includes Mr.Zuma, the other corrupt politicians, the foul-mouth neighbour, the inconsiderate taxi driver… and we can add countless more.  

Challenging, but non-optional 

 

[1] http://johnchristy.com/neros-persecution-of-christians/

 

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